Fifth grader leads BizTown outing as mayor for the day
Eleven-year-old Kylie Howell had a busy day serving as mayor at JA BizTown, where more than 100 classmates from Veterans Park Elementary explored free enterprise as business operators, taxpayers, and consumers. But she was up for the task. In fact, Kylie had pursued the challenge when the fifth graders listed their top three preferences for positions such as chief financial officer and UPS worker. “I felt like I could do the job as mayor, so I applied for it,” she said. “It’s a cool job, and if I was mayor, I could help a lot of people learning how to be responsible and taking on a real job.”
Before Kylie began her official duties, she was sworn in by Lexington’s Mayor Linda Gorton, who stopped by to welcome the students to BizTown. Gorton praised the facility, which is run by Junior Achievement of the Bluegrass, for giving youngsters a different take on the real world. “They learn a lot about how a city operates and the business of a city,” Gorton said. “People have to be in positions to help make cities operate well. I love that about BizTown because on the kids’ level, it is very much how a city operates.”
In the fully interactive simulated town, fifth graders take charge by running businesses, earning paychecks, and donating to philanthropic causes. They wear many different hats – from Kentucky Utilities worker to UK Healthcare nurse to Forcht Bank president. About 20 companies sponsor store- and business-fronts in BizTown, giving the students a wide range of experiences during their three-hour visit.
A series of classroom lessons prepared the Veterans Park students for BizTown, which is housed in the former Linlee Elementary on Spurr Road. The focus was work-readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy skills. “They learned about how the economy works and the responsibility of a real job,” said teacher Amy Knight, whose class was assigned to City Hall. “It’s a fun field trip, but it’s hard!”